In another painting I was drawn to the mouth of the deserted mine in the mountainside, and in this drawn work – I was literally drawn again, to the nearby Foel Grochan which is punched into the hillside of an utterly remarkable landscape in the Afon Dulas valley.
It is a wonderful thing that the glossy plumage of the Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a remarkable match to carborundum (SiC), and that the two share such a black sheen, metallic, almost other-worldly. That they almost share a taxonomic name is another delicious conceit.
The shoreline is littered with sculpture; cast concrete and complex shapes in brick, the ensemble carefully assembled by the vagaries of time and tide. Only in walking a landscape and spending patient hours in pencil, pen and ink is one party to the quiet dignity of an otherwise chaotic scene.
The whole always seems purposeful, and the location particularly enigmatic given its proximity to the busying world that lies within easy reach. The triangular pyramids bind the detritus of the shore in both a practical and poetic sense. They are modern era megaliths, a fitting addition to the heady ritual landscape of the south Liverpool shore.
Pen and Ink, 42x29cm (2016)
Only the passage of time gives us the privilege to see the glimpses of light that linger yet from the War years. In all the terror of industrialised slaughter comes an occasional passive ingenuity and creativity that is a counterpoint to the darker sides of man’s nature. We stumble across these as if groping in this darkness, from the strange beauty of the dazzle ships to Hepworth’s hospital sketches.
Casting in concrete has been used both by artists and the military. With the luxury of peacetime comes the conceit of seeing the division between these two makers blur, so we can appreciate the abstract forms for what they are now as well as what they were intended for. Thus, the tank traps scuttled on the north bank of the Mersey are powerful abstract forms in 3 dimensions, sculpted by wind and tide and creating some remarkable forms.
Captured in pen with the ruins of the brick shelters they line the beach like bleached whalebones, scattered in the debris.
Pen and Ink, 21x29cm (2016)
The evening sky is stained with cobalt ink and shows Venus ascendant over Stac an Armin. Wheeling pinpricks of white birds are scarcely visible over Stac Lee, one of the tallest sea stacs in the British Isles, which here is transfigured courtesy of its remarkable similarity of topography into the garden tomb at Gethsemene.